Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Unfinished works of art...

An unfinished work of art...

Greetings everyone!  I have missed writing my blog and today I am anxious to share some personal things with you.

Last July 7th, I had a small but significant life changing event.  On the way home from the coast where I had been painting, I had what we call a 'minor stroke' or TIA.

A hospital neurologist in Birmingham spent a generous amount of time with me. 
We discussed how life slowly gets on an elevated plane of speed where we get caught up into thinking we are more efficient if we accept responsibility for the failure of the world and convince ourselves that we can straighten it all out by neglecting our own life and health (happiness!!) and just work harder and longer to get it done. 

This is usually a woman thing, but not limited to just women.

I left the hospital 3 days later with a wonderful feeling that I had just been given a new lease on life.
I began my new life with a commitment to live better, for myself, my family and God.

Looking back from the top of the Boston Lighthouse...

Getting away from life sometimes gives us a better view of it all.


Later that next week, my aunt shared with me a program of meditation being used to help the soldiers returning from the Middle East.  Not only is it doing wonders for them, but has been proven to improve our health, bring a wonderful level of peace and make life as Jesus tried to teach his followers:

Be Still and Know

I have read more than a dozen books on the subject and have found that I am painting better than ever with my new "mindfulness."  I was asked to paint a special work for our newly renovated sanctuary at Livingston Chapel Methodist in Crane Hill.  I spent 8 FULL weeks working on it and to my delight, I was as enthused in the last week as I was in the first week!  This was an amazing feeling.

Tell Me The Stories of Jesus


Normally, a large work has a half way point where I wish it would hurry up and be done.  
 Not this one!!

"Enlightenment by Donna Peters, artist

So what have I learned from my lesson on living?

The answer is.... things I wish I had learned a long time ago!!!

I look forward to sharing my new discoveries with everyone!  Even if you are not an artist, you can find a new life with greater peace, joy and creativity.  Life is forever young if we have purpose.

Little lamb from "Tell Me The Stories of Jesus"

I established my reputation as an American Lighthouse artist with  "Pride of Biloxi"
Today I did the under-painting of rough color for what will probably be   "Pride of Biloxi VII"

An unfinished work of life and my art.

I feel as if I am at the top of the Boston lighthouse and looking back at my world.  The sky is blue.  The day is new and I am filled with inspiration. 

I would love to share what I have learned with everyone.  If it is meant to be, it will happen!
I am no longer 'managing life,' but instead living it to the fullness of its own purpose.

Magnolias Forever, 

                          Donna Peters 

Thank you to my dear friend Mary O'Neal who has encouraged me to continue my blog!!
Love you back Mary!!!
Donna Peters, artist

Thursday, January 21, 2016

What Inspires YouTo Paint by Donna Peters

What Inspires You?

Our inspiration comes from what is inside us as we respond to the world around us.

Emotions and art are first cousins.

Emotions give us the fuel and drive to paint. 
Some emotions can completely shut down the creative process.

A collection of simple personal items make the best paintings!

 What motivates or shuts me down may be just the opposite for you.  
Each artist has to sort out emotions for themselves… 
and be kind to ourselves in the process!

Something so simple: Indian Blanket flower

Years of collecting “tear sheets” from magazines, papers and travel brochures has given me files labeled according to subjects, locations or even moods.

My resources for a painting in the studio today.  I sometimes spend weeks gathering information about my subjects.

In going through my older files, I learn more about the life I have lived.  I am still the same person I was only now I know more about me!
Today it is so easy to save images in digital files, but I find that they eventually end up in printed form.


Finding Inspiration

Inspiration can come anywhere or anytime, but if you are living your life wrapped up in personal problems and in emotionally dark places, it will be hard to find.  Get out and give to others. Open your hand to give and it will be filled with gifts.

Winter is a wonderful time to study the shape of the trees.

Would you know how to paint this effect?  Other artists have done it so well.  Their success began with the willingness to try.  

My sketch book is a very personal view of my life.  It helps me sort out my thoughts and emotions.

I love writing out my ideas... and my emotions.  The words become a virtual recipe for a painting. I tell the sketch book what I want the painting to look like... the mood.  If there is a special item and I want it to look shiny, crisp or some special effect, this note goes into the sketch book.  

Visit the library or Google videos of other artists painting.   
Choose a location or subject:


The life of Monet: 

How to paint the beach: 

How to paint a simple rose…  

Basic painting prep:

Working on location is my sanctuary and my studio.

Do inventory on your supplies.
Clean and arrange your painting space. Many a great painting was done on the kitchen table or cold carport… or on location.

 What you have or don't have does not determine your success. You do.

A fresh palette is prepared for the next day.

Personal behavior hints:

Set out healthy foods and plenty of water while you work.  Stay hydrated.

Take exercise breaks. 

If you become confused as to how to handle a part of the painting, take a break and do a little house or garden work. 

This is a very special time.  You are becoming a new person….  

                                                                                                       the real you!

My favorite "no guilt" snack foods are raw almonds, carrots and citrus fruits.

  The mind functions best when attached to a healthy body.  Sometimes when we begin to paint and not yet involved in the process, we become anxious... and eat.  Sugar and bread foods pick us up just for a a few minutes and then drop us.  
It is amazing how heavy a brush can become when the body is 
not getting the right foods.  

Sugar is my enemy.  It robs me of energy and a clear mind.

Give yourself the right foods.  Exercise.  Live a longer and healthier life.
Live to paint better than you can even dream! 


If you want anything to grow, share it with someone who needs company or happiness.

Avoid people who exist only to take from others in an effort to seek their happiness.

Let your prayer be not to receive good, but to allow good to work through you.

Count your blessings.   
The list would make a great first entry into your sketch book of success. 

Donna Peters, artist

Deep South Studio
P.O. Box 10
Crane Hill, AL 35053

Visit my web site to see what I have been doing.



Friday, January 23, 2015

Studio Work

Let's get ready for a great year of painting!

If you want to paint, but just cannot get in gear, your best inspiration may be as easy as a little art "housekeeping."  A little time organizing, cleaning and taking inventory of your supplies can give you that extra courage.

Let's clean house!

First of all, get rid of all the old ghosts of ideas that lost their appeal. 
If it is a painting and the unfinished image haunts you, gesso over it... several times or better yet, put it in the trash now! 
It is standing between you and your future enjoyment.  It has to go.

If you have photos and tear sheets and possibly a few sketches that have "cooled" to the point you really cannot recall the attraction to the subject, gather them together and put them in a folder and label it:
 "Ideas To Paint"
It can take years for an idea to assemble in your mind.  Until you can see it in your mind's eye, you should not try it with the exception of doing a few thumbnail sketches in your sketch book.

Make a folder for any other art ideas.  Arrange them in a neat order of current importance.
          Do not put them away.

"Putting away" is just another term for "burial."

Next, lets go thru all your paints.  Make a list of your colors.  On an index card, make a shopping list.
At the current cost of many paints, you may need to buy one tube at a time using a discount coupon.

Gather all your brushes and make a list.
Using a good art catalog such as
Dick Blick,
Cheap Joe's or
Jerry's Artarama,
make sure you have a good variety of styles, sizes and quality.

Real Brush Work!
Using a good brush soap take the spare bathroom sink for cleaning brushes.  Examine all brushes.  if they feel stiff, they may have dried paint in them.

Add water to soften the brush soap if it is a bar or in a jar.  Using lukewarm water begin with the dirtiest brushes and gently work soap into the bristles. 

Do not force this step or you may break dry brittle bristles.

I like to allow the soap to stay in each brush at least for an hour.  It will do a much better job as it softens old paint and conditions the delicate hairs or bristles.

Use the palm of your hand to rub each brush gently.  If the soap turns a color, you will know you are doing a good job of removing old pigment. 

If a brush still feels stiff after one or two washings, it may be necessary to allow the brush to lay on the counter with lots of wet soap in the bristles.  Allow it to sit overnight.

 Do not soak brushes in a jar or dish of water!!  

Once you have cleaned each brush, rinse well. 
The soap can have a bad effect on your paint.

Allow brushes to dry for several days.
 Do not stand them up as this will cause the moisture to get into the handle which can make the handle swell and become loose.  Once this happens the life of the brush is very much in danger.

The image shows a brush resting in the turp jar.... this is a very bad habit!!

Cleaning Your Turp Jar

I only do this once or twice a year.  It can be a very messy job so plan to gather all the cleaning supplies and do the cleaning outside.

You will need:
a extra clean jar or can
Fresh turpentine
disposable gloves
paper towels
several used Walmart bags

Allow the turp jar to sit overnight without moving so all the paint sediment will settle to the bottom.  Gently move it outside to begin clean-up.

Pour the turp into the clean jar or can until it begins to look dirty by pulling the sediment off the bottom of the turp jar.
Wearing gloves, nest several plastic shopping bags inside each other to avoid any leaks.  I sometimes put old newspaper in the bottom to soak up the muddy turp sludge.

Avoid shaking the jar so it does not splatter.  Using paper towel or tissues, remove the coil or wire basket from the turp jar.  Wipe clean putting all tissues in the bags.

Clean the turp jar the same way.  Once the turp jar is clean, dispose all rags, tissues and gloves in the same bags and tie shut.  Dispose of in the trash outside to avoid fumes in the house or studio.

Now you can pour the "cleaner turp" you took off the top back into the clean turp jar. 
Add enough new turp to cover the coil or basket by about 1/2"

The turp should not be any deeper as it will be too deep for most brushes and eventually damage the handle.

With your master supply list, take inventory of your mediums, tissues, gloves and turpentine. 
Don't forget to look for retouch varnish as well as final varnish for finished dry paintings.

Is your sketch book in good shape?  Is there room for plenty of new ideas?  How about your pencils and favorite sketching mediums?  Do you have a nice bag for keeps all these in a neat package and ready to go out in the sunshine for a great sketching experience this spring?

I sure hope so!  Nothing feeds the spirit like a quiet 15 minutes outside making a quick sketch of something that catches your eye... and heart!

Note, make sure all your supplies bags have your name and cell number on them.  You never know when you might leave them behind or join others who use the same brand names.


Get your palette box ready with a new disposable palette pad.  Take the cover off and put the ENTIRE pad into the box.  If you use one sheet, it will slide around and fold up making a huge mess!

Use pop-up tissues!!!  Having to stop to tear off a paper towel is a real mood-breaker. 
 Rags?  Only as a last resort.  Always move them out at the end of each paint session!  
They can be a fire hazard.

Buy all needs as they come on sale.  If your life would be lost without your paint supplies, keep extra in inventory.  You never know when that trip to the beach will happen so quickly that buying supplies would be inconvenient!

 This year I cleaned out my trusty old tackle box.  There were years of dust and leaves in the bottom.

Now that everything is clean and neat, I have a new confidence that I am sooo ready to paint!

My folding stool is in the car along with my plein air easel.  My hat is always in the back seat so bring on the sunshine, I am ready to paint!!

 What are we waiting on?

The nursing home does not do beach trips to paint !

Please invite your friends to join my blog.  

Who knows, you may gain a really great paint buddy in the deal!

Thank you!!!

And now, I am off to my favorite studio... the world of nature!

Love it!!


Monday, August 4, 2014

Summer with The Girls

Those of you who have painted with me in any of my oil or watercolour workshops, know that I usually share my theory that sharing your art is the best way to make it grow.  Life becomes filled with blessings when you introduce others to new ideas and the joy of living.

Life with a variety of people... 

I shared several days with a group of people with significant financial blessings.  I watched as they chased any possible lead for financial gain stepping over the blessings at their feet.  They left feeling poor and desiring happiness.

Others in my life have blessed me in so many new ways.

This group lives to serve others.  Many of them grow gardens and from dirt they not only watch the miracles of nature, but live in abundance.  They have more than they can consume and instead of tossing the excess to the side or hoarding it until it rots, they seek others that have an appreciation for good things and bless them with their excess.  I was one of the many people they blessed with their abundance.

Life brings new blessings

It all began with sharing a church pew with another family.  The grandmother told me how much she enjoyed her art.  I had painted several covers for our church bulletins for Christmas and Thanksgiving and found the exercise very rewarding.  With Father's Day approaching I asked Miss Rachelle if she would like to do the cover.  She was excited and maybe just a bit afraid of the project at first, but after sharing a couple of the right size sheets of watercolour paper she began to think about the possibilities.

By Father's Day Rachelle, the art was complete.  She also found a poem on the internet that expressed her feelings toward her own father.  With the help of a few good computer programs, combined, sized and designed a very special bulletin.

From this simple project grew a special 
group of 4 girls who wanted to learn to 
crochet, paint and just learn new things. 

  It was a perfect time to reach out and be a part of the life of their lives.  I had several weeks of waiting until the day when my daughter would donate her left kidney to her husband.  With worry consuming all of my own creative energy, the opportunity to spend time with Rachelle, Amber, Sophie and Morgan was a welcome relief.  With them I could still be creative, feel productive while the hours and days could quickly pass.

Watercolours soon became a Tuesday treat.  Walking the countryside we chose the abundant yellow daisies or Black Eyed Susans  for our first painting.  Once the paintings were finished and signed, they were worked into a note card design.  It was a perfect opportunity for us to talk about the importance of writing notes of thanks and what makes a note special and effective.

I'll let you admire the results.  Wish you could read a note I received from one of the girls.  It makes the last note from a new bride pale in comparison!!


Well done girls!!  I am so proud of you. 

And now it is time for school to start, art festivals begin for me in just a few weeks.  After a summer of going in new directions, I can celebrate my life with a few completed projects, new friends and feeling very blessed

As I have always warned those who paint with me: If you are anxious, tired or filled with fear, painting may not be the solution at the time.  Turn that energy into other great things.  In time your Creative Courage will return with renewed energy and I promise you will more than make up for lost time! 

Celebrate with me! The peaches are all gone.  Shared with friends, no one was wasted or lost.  I wish I could say the same for the hours we spend frozen in fear for things we cannot change.

Nervous energy at work!!  Yea! I finally got this project off my annual to do list!


Can't recall where I bought this old trunk for $15.
It took a week of real work, but  now it holds the remnants of many memories in my studio.


As for Paul and Pam?  The pains of the kidney surgeries are beginning to fade.  Their bodies work to adapt to the loss of a kidney with my daughter and the addition of what Paul calls "Miss Bean" to his body.  (This wash tub had been full of Pamela's peaches.)

 When we began this journey, we made many jokes about "Miss Bean" and the great kidney caper. Sayings like "it is better to give than receive" came to mind and we were warned that Pamela would suffer more after the surgery than Paul would.  

Is it indeed better to give than receive?

Pamela would say, "ABSOLUTELY"

and we agree!





Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Side Effects of Being An Artist

Side Effects of Being An Artist

Never learn how to paint unless you have a sincere desire to live life to the fullest.

Most common side effects:

  • The desire to work on your off days
  • Happiness when others around you are grumpy and bored
  • Spend more money on paint brushes than chocolate....
  • Insatiable desire to find new colors
  • High intolerance of boring people
  • Better general health
  • Loss of spare bedroom
  • Unending desire to be with other artists and learn new techniques
In May about a dozen of us gathered on the back bay of Biloxi, Mississippi to paint..."Plein Air."

For most in the class, it was a first time experience and I worried for weeks before the class if the weather would be kind and if everyone would feel comfortable painting "on location."

The plans were to paint on location that Saturday and then under a pavilion the next day to add the finishing details to our 10 x 20" canvas landscapes.

The scene was simple, almost boring, but to the eyes of an artist, it was the best kind with plenty of room for interpretation and creative license. The pine tree was our subject.  Just enough unique twists and turns and asymmetry to make it interesting... just my favorite thing to paint!

Anything else in the composition would be changed to set the stage for a very fun painting...

               simple and totally fun to paint.

The location had all the right things... but we had to do a little research on location to know what would be the best elements to add... or subtract from the composition.

One of my favorite Gulf Coast plants is Palmetto:
To avoid "gangrene" it was very important to select plants of different colors.

Brown Broom Sage

 For a wonderful accent, we found a bush with flowers the same orange red color of Trumpet Vine.  It was new to me and I still have not found the name:

Our mystery plant....
What appeared to be a somewhat simple or even boring scene became exciting and filled with life.  We even had the problem of leaving some things out:

A pair of Black Ducks feeding behind us as we painted.

If you are an artist, you know how it is to find a great view to paint on location.

The night before is like Christmas.  

Sleep comes slow as the mind races to explore the mental possibilities of the new painting.  To share the experience with others who have never had the opportunity to paint on location.... well, there is an added excitement.
 I was delighted to be the one to lead my friends into a new artistic experience.

Getting started in our plein air studio.

Lewis and I had planned for almost any weather event.  I encouraged everyone to wear old cotton loose fitting clothes.  A hat is a must.  Good shoes are never a bad idea. 
Add a cooler of water, snack bars and maybe bug spray and you are set for the day.
Lewis brought a canopy to give us some shade...something I rarely have when painting alone on location. 

Each artist brought a stool or folding stool.  
Learning to unfold the variety of outdoor easels was fun.  

Once everyone was set up and ready to paint,

 I demonstrated the wonderfully fun and easy way to paint a glorious Coastal sky:

And the day begins!!

It was a wonderful day.  Everyone was so happy they had taken this new and exciting approach to painting.  Lewis sat with all our easels while we took a trip down Popps Ferry Road to get some lunch.  I thought we would take a leisurely lunch, but it seems everyone was more excited to get back to their painting and the next steps which I demonstrated one at a time.

After each demonstration everyone began that simple step.  I moved in and around the class answering questions, doing individual demos on how to mix colors, what brush was best and little tricks to overcome what seemed like artistic confusion. 

Artists At Work !!
Lewis had to remind everyone to stop for water.  Laughter broke out all through the day as we shared personal feelings and "artistic humor."  So far, we each had suffered most of the side effects of being "plein air artists."

Our day came to an end around 3:30.  Our canvases were completely covered with fresh oil paint and we marveled at our own success. 
Tomorrow we would share a day of adding details and more laughter.  Saying goodbye to this wonderful experience would become a good memory for each of us.

A plein air studio with all the right tools.

Before the second day was over, a beautiful sunset dipped into the Gulf and invited us to come back for another glorious experience of painting in the greatest of all studios... that of the great Creator.

Thank you for this day.

What could be better than this occasion?
The next one!!